Daggerfall Mod:Custom Artifacts

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This document presents an overview of what is required in order to add your own unique artifacts to the game of Daggerfall. I am assuming you are at least somewhat familiar with editing files and hexdecimal numbers. The information contained is by no means complete or absolutely correct. Please point out any errors/omissions as you find them. I am in no way related to Bethesda. Unless indicated by a 0x or a h, all numbers are decimal. This was rather quickly written in order to make the information known since it is rather exciting I feel, and adds a new direction for custom quests.


Somewhere along my travels I came across the file MAGIC.DEF located in the ARENA2 directory. In contains a number of short fields describing what appear to be magical items, both artifacts and those random magic items you find in dungeons and on quests. It appears as though this file gives what enchantments each item contains and little else. This is plenty information for the random magic items since the actual item type can be anything. The magical enchantments are merely copied into the item. For the artifacts we also need to know the item type, picture, etc... which doesn't appear to be contained within the file. Attempts to locate this data have failed. Thus, for the moment, we may be limited to duplicating the known artifact item types, changing the 10 item enchantments to suit our needs. The actual structure for this file is contained later on in this document.

Adding an Artifact[edit]

Given that the structure to MAGIC.DEF is so simple, it is almost trivial to add another item to the end of it. For adding an artifact the best method is to copy from a known one of a similar type. For instance if you wanted a magical sword you might copy from the Ebony Blade, a bow from Auriel's Bow etc... Copy this field after the last one in the file and increment the first byte in the file (indicating one more record in the file). You may now change the new item's name and enchantments as you please.

Using the new Artifact[edit]

Now that you've added a new artifact to the game, how do you make use of it? If you are familiar with the item structure, every item in the game has a group and sub-group indicating what it actually is. For artifacts the group number is 5 with the sub-group indicating which artifact, ranging from 0 to 22. Since you added the artifact to the end of the MAGIC.DEF file it will be referenced as number 23. Similarly, if you add more artifacts, they will be numbers 24, 25, and so on. This number can be used when modifying the save game or editing quests. For instance, I copied the quest B0B81Y00 (I think) to B0B70Y02. The former quest finds the artifact Crysamere (which has the group/subgroup 05/15). In the new quest file I change the 15 to a 23 for my new artifact. I also change the QRC text file so I know when this quest is offered. At this time this is the only trial I've done, but it has worked successfully. I did receive my new modified artifact at the end of the quest.

The TEXT.RSC Artifact Entry[edit]

Unfortunately, now that we've got our new artifact, there is no description for it in the TEXT.RSC file in the ARENA2 directory. When we get 'Info' on our artifact Daggerfall prints out an error message. I won't go into any detail of the RSC file at the moment, but it turns out we need to add an entry to it with the index number of 87XX, where XX is the number of our artifact. The known artifacts in the game have indices of 8700 to 8722, so our new artifacts would be 8723, 8724, and so on. At this time there is no 'easy' way to add a record to the TEXT.RSC file...an editor will have to be created to do this.

Forseen Problems[edit]

Heh...great, we've found a way to added user defined artifacts to the game. This will allow new quests to be created with unique and never before seen items in the game. Here's the problem though...the position of the artifact in the MAGIC.DEF determines its index number. So, if Hacker #1 creates an artifact and Hacker #2 also creates a artifact it won't be possible to use both artifacts since both have an index of 23. If both are added at the same time the indices will get messed up and who knows what will happen. IE, both artifacts will be referenced as #23 in their quests, but in actual fact one will be 23 and one 24. Similarly there would be two identical references in the TEXT.RSC file for artifact 23, and none for artifact 24. There may be several possible solutions for this:

  1. Only have one set of custom artifacts at a time. So you would install hackers #1 artifact, play the game and get it. Uninstall the #1's artifact and install #2s etc... This would solve the quest problem but the artifacts description would be missing from TEXT.RSC.
  2. A better possibility would be to 'assign' unique artifact numbers to user defined artifacts. So, if you were creating a new artifact you would take an index which no one had used before. If you did use a used one things would again get messed up. Since at this time there are only a handful of hackers editing quests and the like, one would merely post an email stating "I'm using Artifact #45 for a new one..." This would mean that there would be a number of unused entries in the MAGIC.DEF file. These could contain a regular magic item entry until replaced by an artifact. By the definitions of the index number there would be a maximum of 256 total artifacts allowed at one time. Any more and you would have a similar problem as previously mentioned (hopefully this will be enough for a while).

Solution number 2 seems to be the better and more versatile, although it requires the hacker to notify others of their artifact number(s) before creating/releasing it. It solves both the problem of the artifact quests and the TEXT.RSC file since each artifact still has a unique number (as long as there are less than 256 of them).

Creating Editing Programs[edit]

The structure of the MAGIC.DEF file is simply enough to allow editing by hand. I still intend to release a simply editor to assist in this. Although the structure of the TEXT.RSC file is almost as simple, adding a record involves changing the offsets of all records, several hundred of them. Thus a simply editor here will be required to assist in this. Now comes the problem of releasing new artifacts to the general public. We obviously can't ask them to hex-edit the files manually since this is far above the capabilities of the average computer user. Instead, some sort of program is required that will install 'modules' automatically. If each new artifact has a unique number this can be achieved rather simply. It may still be some time before a suitably capable system exists to do this.

The MAGIC.DEF File Structure[edit]

Bytes[0-3] (long) 
Number of records in file.
Record Structure (62 bytes long) 
Bytes[0-31] (32 bytes) 
The item name. Remember that including the string '%it' within the item's name will cause the item type to appear, ie: 'Leaping Shirt' or 'Leaping Longsword'
00 Regular Magic Item
01 Artifact
02 Also an Artifact
Group number of the item, ie: 02 is weapon 03 armor, etc...
Subgroup of the item.
Bytes[35-54] (20 bytes) 
Contains the 10 item enchantments, each one being two bytes in length. A 'FF FF' means no enchantment. The close to complete list of enchantments is contained elsewhere.
Bytes[55-56] (short) 
The number of uses of the item.
Bytes[57-60] (short) 
Not sure what this is but possibly the cost of the item, although it isn't carried over to the savegame. Most artifacts have a value of 50,000 here while other magical items have lower values.
Byte[61] (char) 
Material type of item.
End Structure